The Woman in Black, by Stephen Mallatratt and Dame Susan Hill, takes the stage at Jericho Arts Centre until March 5th. Based upon Dame Susan’s own 1983 gothic horror novel, this Vancouver production is presented by CLASSical ACT Collective, with the support of Famous Artists Limited, directed by and starring Bernard Cuffling with Aidan Wright.
Hugely popular in its London run where it’s set to close in a couple weeks, after nearly 13,000 performances, the second-longest running straight play in the West End. This production is Cuffling’s sixth experience with The Woman in Black. In the play, the veteran actor plays aging solicitor Arthur Kipps as well as a various other characters in the play within the play, demonstrating his great range, in spite of Kipps stating he has ‘no desire to be a great actor’. The aging Kipps engages a young actor (Aidan Wright) to help recount the eerie experiences he encountered as a young solicitor at Eel Marsh House to life. Hoping to purge himself of the hauntings, by getting it out once and for all, neither he nor his dramatic collaborator could have expected the results.
The Actor, as portrayed by Wright, helps guide Kipps to tell his story, as well as representing the lawyer in his youth. Wright’s youthful and energetic portrayal of young Kipps, contrasts with Cuffling’s cautious, world-weary older Kipps. Close-minded to the supernatural, the younger becomes enlighten as he and we, the audience, learn more of what happened to Kipps in Eel Marsh House.
While reenacting the hauntings, the Woman in Black manages to offer up some chilling moments and scares for the audience as well. Cuffling’s direction keeps things simple, with just the two actors in such a dialogue heavy piece the focus stays with the story even as Cuffling changes costumes and characters on the fly and the duo move between present and past. The simplicity of the direction and set, along with the intimate environment in the rustic, historic Jericho Arts Centre add to the chilling atmosphere.
If you’re one who enjoys the thrills and chills of the supernatural, The Woman in Black, is bound to send some shivers down your spine. Find out for yourself at Jericho Arts Centre, 1675 Discovery Street. Find more information and tickets online at womaninblackvancouver.com.
For a chance to win free tickets and a good chill, spot The Woman in Black on the streets of Vancouver and enter the online contest.